Mercedes-Benz puts its powerful 5.5-liter V-8 and seven-speed automatic in the CLK-class, also chopping the top to make a Cabriolet version.
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In general, we think the bodywork on this car is bland, although the sharp front end is a nice touch.
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The 5.5-liter V-8 delivers 382 horsepower, enough to get this car to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. But it comes at the price of poor fuel economy, subjecting the car to a gas guzzler tax.
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The Cabriolet uses a powered soft top. We noticed quite a bit of noise while going through a tunnel or on the lower deck of a bridge as the top reverberated off the roof overhead.
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A good part of what makes this car enjoyable to drive is the open top, especially during the reasonably warm weather we had during our time with the car.
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Our CLK550 had some AMG touches, including wheels, air dam, and exhaust tips.
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The rear and sides of the car are bland, looking more like a sedan than a coupe.
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With the convertible top, trunk space is extremely compromised, but Mercedes-Benz includes a rear seat cover, so you can carry more luggage.
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Cabin space is reasonable in the CLK550 for four people. We also like how the seat belt holders extend forward for the front seat passengers when you get in the car.
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With the Driver Multicontour Seat option, you get these controls that adjust the inflation of air chambers to fine-tune the fit of the driver's seat.
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The interior is tastefully done with black leather, plastics, and wood inlay.
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We found the steering responsive, but light, offering very little feedback during cornering.
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The CLK550 uses Mercedes-Benz's seven-speed automatic transmission, with a manual gear selection mode. You can select gears by moving the shifter from side-to-side, or with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. There is also a button near the shifter that sets the suspension to Comfort or Sport mode.
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We are not fans of this interface, which makes you use a little fiddly joystick to input destinations and choose audio.
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One feature we do like in the otherwise basic navigation system is called Today's Plan, which lets you save multiple addresses and will automatically plot the best route to all of them.
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The single CD and DVD slot sit behind the LCD. The CD player can read MP3 tracks, and the DVD player is for the navigation system's map disc.
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The optional six-disc changer is an archaic cartridge model that mounts in the glovebox. There is also an auxiliary audio input in the glovebox.
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The stereo doesn't show ID3 track information from MP3 CDs, instead just showing file names.
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The optional Harmon/Kardon audio system sounds good, but not great, as it only has six speakers.
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There is a hands-free phone system in this car, but you have to get the proper cradle for your phone and plug it into a dock on the console.
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